The COVID-19 pandemic, like an unexpected 7.3 earthquake on the Richter scale, shook Saint Lucia sporting landscape as sports enthusiasts forgot about attending games, while for others, coming out of the house itself was a challenge.
Sports fans across Saint Lucia and beyond our shores have plenty to look forward to in 2021, with a schedule packed with a wide range of events once the all clear is given to resume sporting activities.
Athletics, cricket, football, swimming, tennis are amongst the sports that will dominate many of the headlines locally, each featuring events that should be hugely popular.
Regionally, the annual Carifta track and field championship in Bermuda, the Carifta swimming championship in Barbados; the Jean Pierre Caribbean Youth Netball Championship in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and internationally the Summer Olympics Games in Tokyo, Japan may well steal the show; the above mentioned events were all postponed due to the Coronavirus.
In Saint Lucia some schools were fortunate to host their Inter House Sports Meet which was followed by the Inter Secondary Schools Northern and Southern Qualifiers. Unfortunately, the grand finals was not held due to the closure of schools as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
On the tracks, the Independence Games and the National Juniors track and field championship were a tremendous success.
The Saint Lucia National Netball Association was able to host the Independence Netball Championship, the only championship held for 2020.
In February, Alysa Elliott and Joey Angeloni emerged as Men and Ladies Singles champions of the Independence Day Tennis Classic for 2020; the weeklong tennis classic was organized by the Saint Lucia Tennis Association. Alysa defeated Netanya Faissal in straight sets 6-0, 6-0; while Angeloni had the better of Ron Blanchard 7-5, 6-1.
More tennis news, in August, Jessica Eudovic set the records straight when she emerged champion in the SLNTA under 14 and under 16 singles and under 16 doubles. In the under 14s she defeated Lotoya Murray; in the under 16s she defeated Iyana Paul, she then team up with Iyana Paul in the under 16 doubles to defeat Lindy Amedee and Amelia Duval.
The Saint Lucia Aquatic Federation successfully stage the annual Independence Swimming Classic at the RHAC in early March, the only competitive event held for the year and with an open window in October the SLAF stage a Developmental Meet.
South Castries Lions emerged as champions when they defeated Mon Repos Stars by 33 runs in the final of the inaugural Saint Lucia National Cricket Association (SLNCA) Dream X1 T10 Blast played at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground in July.
Also in July, close to 110 aspiring athletes representing five track and field clubs on the Island made a bold statement when they competed in a friendly rivalry held at the Mindoo Phillip Park. Host club, Survivors swept a number of first place finishers at the inaugural meet dubbed “Emancipation Day Mini Trials”.
Football fans also saw the commencement of the Saint Lucia Football Association (SLFA) Inc Island Cup – Premier League and the DJ Dungar Eastern Zone football tournament after a few rounds of matches the organizers had no choice but to call off the respective tournaments.
The SLNCA Inter District Senior Men’s Tournament got underway to a bright start with under 19 youth cricketer Ackeem Auguste (Central Castries) scoring three consecutive centuries on the trot. The above mentioned tournaments came to a premature end due to the COVID -19 pandemic.
There was a bit of golf as well, in early July. Grow Well Inc staged its annual junior programme in collaboration with Sandals Saint Lucia at the Sandals Golf and Country Club, Cap Estate for 20 aspiring young golfers. The Saint Lucia Golf Association recently held its charity event at the same venue.
The Saint Lucia Rugby Football Union can count their blessings for having a great showing this year, the top honours went to Rogues men’s team for making a clean sweep of the Tag 5s and 7s championship played at the La Clery Playing Field, the Sab Sporting Facility and the Monchy Playing Field. The women also held their own on the pitch with the Whiptail Warriors emerging as champions.
Darts: September saw the revival of Darts on the island when the Saint Lucia Darts Association (SLDA), in collaboration with Prio’s Bar and Grill stage the 501 Classic. Untouchable A emerged as champions. The SLDA held the National Day Extravaganza at the same venue with Neville Labadie (Southern Pointers) defeating Cuthbert Anthony (Untouchable A) 2-0 in the finals; while in the Mixed Doubles final, Hendrickson Joseph and Delta Lionel nosed ahead of Peter Lionel and Leona Augustin 2-1.
Also getting the three counts was the International Veterans Masters Tournament; the 10th Annual Veterans Football Tournament and the annual Blackheart Knockout Football Tournament. The organizers, Veterans in Sports Inc (VISI) CEO, Alvin Malaykhan and Blackheart Production CEO, David Christopher are keeping their fingers cross hoping that 2021 will be a big year for sports.
Two new national sports association presidents will have to even things out for their affiliates/ members come 2021. In golf, Kent Glace replaced Michael Gordon and in karate Sensei Ezra Jn Baptiste replaced Oliver Lawrence who did not seek reelection. Also elected to serve and was re-elected unopposed were Rufina Paul (Netball) and Cornelius Breen (Athletics).
On February 1 the Saint Lucia Athletics Association honored its top athletes namely Levern Spencer (Senior Female) and Albert Reynolds (Senior Male). Jahem Ferdinand was honoured as Junior Male with Junior Female going to Julien Alfred.
On Sunday 26th January, the Saint Lucia Aquatic Federation crowned their top performers: Junior Female – Naima Hazell; Junior Male – Antoine Destang; Senior Female – Mikaili Charlemagne and Senior Male – Jayhan Odlum – Smith. The quartet had an exceptional and exciting year in the pool.
Krysan St. Louis hit the road running when she captured both the Junior and Senior Female Footballer of the Year Award when the SLFA Inc. hosted its annual awards at the Bay Gardens Marina Haven Hotel on Saturday 8th February. Keegan Caul ensured that there was no changing of the guards when he captured the Junior Male Footballer of the Year Award for the second consecutive year while Vino Barclette captured the Senior Male footballer of the Year Award.
For the first time in its history, the Saint Lucia Tennis Association (SLNTA) held its inaugural award at its facility, the National Tennis Centre in Beausejour on Saturday 25th January. Siblings Maxx and Megan Williams captured the senior male and female tennis players for the year.
On Saturday 15th February at the Grande Pavilion dubbed “The Saint Lucia Tent” in Rodney Bay, the Ministry for Youth Development and Sports held the 40th edition of the National Sports Awards: Mikaili Charlemagne (swimmer) took home her first Junior Sportswoman of the year title; West Indies Under 19 ICC World Cup captain Kimani Melius made light work of the field to win his third consecutive Junior Sportsman of the year award; High Jumper, Levern Spencer continue to stretch her unbelievable record winning the Sportswoman of the year title for the 16th time, while Javelin thrower Albert Reynolds his third senior sportsman of the year award.
Not forgetting our sportsmen and sportswomen / administrators who left us in 2020 but touched the lives of many: Cassius ‘Cassi Boom’ Glasgow (Marchand Football League/ Youth Coach); Joyce Auguste (Netball); Hilary ‘Franco’ St. Martin (Football Referee); Fitz Andre ‘Ryder’ Charlery (President Micoud Football League/ Veteran player); Mc Millan Medar (SLFA Referee Development Officer); Cornelius Emmanuel (track and field); Wilkinson Larcher (Lancers Sports Club/ former SLFA President); Anthony ‘Pomme’ Montoute (football/ Behind the College); Victorin Laurencin (SLFA administrator/ coach); Oliver Scott Jr, (former SLNCA President/ Shamrock member); Richard ‘Chappe’ Thomas (Dennery All Blacks/ Veteran football player); Brian Walcott (Saint Lucia Athletic Association/ Secretary); Irvin Ferdinand (Saint Lucia Athletic Association – Treasurer/ Saint Lucia National Cricket Association/ LOC member); Paul ‘Bolo’ Rudolph (Cricket/ former middle order batsman) and Loftus Emanus (Cricket/ former opening batsman).
As customary, the VOICE spoke to senior journalist Reginald Andrew / The Mirror about the year 2020 in sports and his expectations for 2021. This is what he had to say.
“The sports world was not spared the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic which have caused grave distresses globally but over the past months there has been a ‘sports buzz’ with matches back on track”.
According to Andrew, “The covid-19 crisis has affected the larger proportion of humanity; causing governments, businesses, families, academics, arts and entertainment, culture and social living and by no lesser means the sports world too has been impacted”.
“However, fast forward to July after the first ‘curve ball’ was thrown to recommence sports activities; still with various protocols and in some instances, albeit, lately limited attendance for spectators”.
Andrew continue, “Following the Windies depleted performance in away series against England and New Zealand; international cricket is not hot on the scene again”.
“The Christmas holiday weekend provided a refreshing and comforting treat for sports fans who got to view three intentional test match series being played simultaneously; Pakistan tour of New Zealand; India tour of Australia; and Sri Lanka tour of South Africa”.
He added, “The Windies unit needs to ‘buck up’ and take a page from these ‘cricket scripts’ to try and compete with a ‘sense of purpose’ as a cohesive unit –‘One for all …and all for one”.
Soccer action in the English Premier League is heating up and other leagues globally are turning out to entertain fans and viewers worldwide.
Andrew said, “On the home front, it will be a refreshing atmosphere when sports is returned to the playing field. The Saint Lucia Football Association [SLFA] has an exciting ‘match up’ of games on schedule in the various divisions and it will be interesting to see how the results pan out; as well, competition in other sports”.
Despite the global disturbances and regulatory protocols to safeguard against the coronavirus; the sports buzz is ‘alive and kicking’ again.
In closing, “Here hoping we can navigate safely through this transition to get back on safer ground, for all”!